Monday, April 19, 2010

David Hare on journalism and theatre

In The Guardian, David Hare argues that theatre (and other artforms) can and should respond to events with the same speed as journalism.
All over the world serious work is being made in all sorts of unauthorised ways. Old-fashioned opinion, meanwhile, is tying its shoelaces and not noticing. In the face of the evidence, it is still held as an article of faith by high-minded bystanders that it takes time for artists to absorb events. Any response that appears too quickly must, it is claimed, be journalism, not art. The fact that Wilfred Owen wrote the greatest poems of the first world war in the heat of battle does not shake the prejudice. If the high-minded had their way, Owen would have waited to lend the events more distance. He would, mind you, have been killed in the meanwhile, and his poems would never have got written, but at least Owen would have died with the consolation of knowing that he did plan to compose on a critically approved timescale. Addressing a similar conviction – that films about Iraq and Afghanistan are bound to be flawed because they lack perspective – the critic David Denby asks this excellent question: "Box office wisdom holds that it is too early to make movies about this conflict; but how can it ever be too early to make a good film?"

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